Despite the turbulent relations between the United States and China on the political level, at the sub-national level and among citizens of the two countries; the exchanges and collaborations continue to grow. Currently, there are more than 50 pairs of state-province friendly relations and 231 sister cities between the US and China.
The Oregon-China relationship is a typical example of mutually beneficial relationships on the sub-national level. Oregon established friendly relations with China’s Fujian province in 1984 and subsequently established a sister relationship with the city of Tianjin in 2016. Oregon is unique in that the state legislature has passed a statute law codifying the sister state relations in the United States.
ORS 285A.152 – Oregon-China Sister State Committee Authority provides the legal framework for the activities of NGOs in Oregon China sister relations. It reflects the voices of its constituents and stakeholders and deep-rooted collaboration spirit in people-to-people exchanges between Oregon and China.
Over the past several decades, Oregon governors have visited China many times. Oregon China Council has led many legislative delegations to China with ethical and legal previews before each trip. Current Oregon Governor Kate Brown has visited China many times and exhibited her leadership in sustainable development and education exchanges between Oregon and China.
Oregon enjoys a trade surplus with China amounting to $9.3 billion in 2019-2020, which constitutes of 38 percent Oregon’s total export. The export increases to China is the result of many years of cultivations by civic leaders, Oregon farmers, small business and corporations. The mutually beneficial relations are multifaced, bipartisan, bicameral, and created more than 40,000 high-paying jobs for the local economy. In 2017 in the Oregon 79th legislative session, another resolution passed to affirm the importance of Oregon-China trade and signed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown. It is important to note at the time Oregon had only a $5.6-billion trade surplus with China.
Photo taken on April 27, 2020 shows people posing for a photo with the face masks donated by China’s Fujian Province in Oregon, the United States. (Photo/Xinhua)
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.” Both Oregon and China join hands in their common fight against COVID 19. In the early days of February 2020, the pandemic was just starting in China. Governor Brown sent a heartfelt message to the Chinese people through Oregon China Council: “We stand with the Chinese people in their fight against coronavirus.” During the most difficult period in Oregon’s struggle against the COVID 19 pandemic, Fujian province donated 50,000 masks in April 2020. Oregon Governor Kate Brown in her Thank You letter to then Fujian governor Tang Dengjie used a famous Chinese idiom to express her gratitude for the humanitarian aid to Oregon: “The grace of a drop of water will be reciprocated by a gushing spring.”
The human demission of the Oregon China relation holds it together emotional values solidify the common bonds and legal frameworks act as its guardian. In the latter half of 2020, Oregon China Council, Fujian provincial government, and Tianjin municipal government hosted an online agriculture Zoom meeting to exchange specific ways to enhance exchanges. State Senator Lew Fredrick(D) and Representative David Broc Smith(R) both expressed their shared views that we shall overcome the difficult time in our relationship and Oregon can be an example for other states to follow in the US.
Like the Senior Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi acutely observed: “It is good to note that in times of great difficulty for China-US relations, the force for bilateral exchanges and cooperation has never been absent.”
It is high time for the Washington Belt-Way talking heads to heed calls from the grassroots to take concrete steps to fulfill the political promise and trade policy for the middle class in America. The consequence of not doing so will be manifested in the next election cycle. The Oregon-based company Nike delivers the best line “Just Do It” which applies both in the commercial field and political arena.
Jin Lan is President of Oregon China Council, the United States of America.
The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of China Focus.